The Edge of Europe.

Istanbul is beautiful in a way that’s hard to describe. Imagine if you took Rio, filled it with broken bits of every civilization since the Hittites, and then plunked it down in place of San Francisco.

I got off the plane and took the Metro to…well, somewhere or other. I got lost and confused, and ended up trying to explain “Western Union” to a bunch of Turkish cabdrivers, who didn’t know what the hell I was talking about, but insisted I sit down and drink strong, wonderful sweet Turkish çay (or “chai”, or “tea”) while they tried to find somebody who spoke English. This didn’t work, but we had fun.

I finally just broke down and caught a taxi to Sultanahmet, which is the historic district. I sat for two hours and talked and ate caviar with a young Russian couple and a middle-aged British couple, and lost (twice) armwrestling to Lenny, the Russian guy. (I’ve never had orange caviar. Tastes like sushi.)

Then I found my way to the Terrace Guesthouse, which is a perfectly gorgeous little hotel not three blocks from the Hagia Sophia, and extremely reasonably priced…particularly since I can stand on my balcony and look out across the Bosporus, which is the channel that divides Europe from Asia.

Western Union is not open on Sundays, so I’ll leave tomorrow for Göreme, where I plan to stay in Cappadocia. This afternoon is just relaxation and a tiny bit of cheap trinket shopping (evil eyes for everyone!)

I am extremely happy, in a way I haven’t been extremely happy in a long time.

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